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Brexit plan B, super blood wolf moon, and Athens violence | Europe briefing

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Brexit plan B, super blood wolf moon, and Athens violence | Europe briefing
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1. Good Friday Agreement ‘not negotiable’

Ireland’s European affairs minister says the Good Friday Agreement — a peace deal between Northern Ireland and its southern neighbour — is not negotiable.

The comments come amid reports British PM Theresa May is considering tweaking the agreement to ease the current Brexit deadlock.

The Irish backstop was one of the reasons May's own MPs rejected her original Brexit blueprint last week.

The backstop is the EU’s insurance policy to avoid the return of a visible border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, a key part of a peace deal between the two.

May will present MPs with her plan B for Brexit on Monday afternoon.

2. Police release car bomb footage

Police have released footage of a car bomb that exploded in Northern Ireland on Saturday.

Four men have been arrested over the incident, which happened outside a courthouse in Derry ( Londonderry).

Police say the attack may have been carried out by a dissident republican group.

3. European skygazers enjoy special lunar eclipse

Skygazers in Europe and beyond have been enjoying a rare spectacle: an unusual total lunar eclipse called the "super blood wolf moon".

The reddish colour (hence, blood) is due to rays of sunlight passing through the Earth's dusty, polluted atmosphere as the moon falls into our planet's shadow. It has also earned the name "wolf moon" because it appears in January when wolves would howl in hunger outside villages early in US history, according to The Farmers Almanac. It is considered a super moon because it is currently orbiting closer to Earth than normal.

Some of the most impressive images have been of the "super blood wolf moon" with various European landmarks.

View more images here.

The moon is seen beside a quadriga on the top of the Cinquantenaire arch during a total lunar eclipse known as the "Super Blood Wolf Moon" in Brussels

4. Romania chief set to hear appeal verdict

Romania’s most powerful politician, Liviu Dragnea, is expected to have news of his appeal against a preliminary prison sentence.

Dragnea, leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), was handed a three-and-a-half year term after being found guilty of inciting abuse of office.

He denies the charges.

Today the supreme court’s panel of five judges are expected to rule on his appeal that seeks to strike down the verdict.

It comes after Romania’s justice minister said he had drafted an emergency decree that allows politicians and others convicted of corruption to challenge verdicts handed down by the supreme court.

5. Violent protests in Athens ahead of MPs' vote

Athens saw some of its worst violence for years on Sunday during protests over FYR Macedonia’s proposed name change.

Demonstrators clashed with police ahead of Greek MPs voting on the issue later this week.

Athens and Skopje reached a deal on renaming FYR Macedonia to the Republic of North Macedonia last year.

It has been approved by Macedonian MPs but is awaiting the green light from their Greek counterparts.

The name Macedonia is sensitive to some people in Greece, who think it implies a claim on a neighbouring Greek province of the same name.